When I see a recipe with the words caramelized, pears, and mascarpone, I think to myself- “say no more. I must make this!” That’s what happened seven years ago when I opened up a favorite cookbook, Cucina Rustica, and flipped through the dessert section. It was this same time of year, pear season, and so I quickly added this simple yet incredibly elegant recipe to my repertoire. It soon became a favorite among friends, and it happened to be the last dish I cooked during our time in Munich. Now it’s a recipe full of nostalgia.
Our dear friends Annette and Nicl thoughtfully threw a dinner party the day the movers were scheduled to pack us up. The movers were so overzealous that they packed our Trachten for the Wies’n (new dilemma), and moved things like our sofa and armoire by hefting them onto a crazy lift over the side of our balcony — off the 5th story! Needless to say, I was busy trying not to cry that day. But Annette had comissioned me to bring dessert, the pear dessert she had said, to her dinner that night.
So, I left Dave to the movers, and walked the well-worn route from our apartment past the Parliament, over the Isar, down Maximilianstraße and left to Viktualienmarkt to buy pears and just soak in every second of all the familiarity. It was one of those walks that I’ll never forget- probably because I tried to memorize every moment of that seemingly routine errand. I bought my carefully selected pears, a fresh container of mascarpone, and returned to find an empty, hollow apartment. It was time to head over to Annette and Nicl’s for a cozy evening with a group of friends, good food and wine, and the task of preparing dessert. Life is full of sweetness even while it’s bitter.
Now here we are entering the holiday season, and the time for making memories. I thought I’d share this favorite with a few of my tweaks- I like to make a bit more caramel sauce than is originally intended and I think the orange zest called for is too overpowering so I use tangerines (preferred) or clementines, and less zest altogether. The recipe calls for a dessert wine, but I say- pick a nice white that you enjoy that has a hint of sweetness be it a dessert wine or another. We had some Moscato d’Asti on hand so that’s what went in.
Besides being absolutely delicious, it’s just so easy, and the perfect thing for a special dinner whether it be for two, six, or ten. You can cut or multiply the ingredients to fit your guest list.
Pere al Mascarpone: Caramelized Pears with Mascarpone
Adapted from Cucina Rustica by Vivian La Place and Evan Kleiman
- 9 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 6 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and sliced into wedges
- 1 c. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. zest of tangerines or clementines
- 1 1/4 c. Moscato d’Asti or a dessert wine
- 1 lb. mascarpone
- Heat the butter in a sauté pan until it is bubbling. Add the pears and sugar and cook over medium heat until the pears are just tender.
- Remove the pears from the pan with a slotted spoon and caramelize the sugar mixture over high heat. Be careful here- sugar can burn quickly, so the second you see it begin to change color, add the wine.
- Add wine and citrus zest and cook on medium high heat until liquid reduces to a thick sauce.
- Serve the pears warm with the caramel sauce and a large dollop of mascarpone.